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Based on the 2001 steampunk book series by Philip Reeve about “predator cities” on wheels that roam the wastelands of a postapocalyptic Europe, Mortal Engines is the sort of movie that you watch when you get home from a rave at 3 a.m. and you’re still too high or amped up to go to sleep.

It does not belong in a theater. At best, with all its giant motors gyrating and people jumping around while dressed up like bikers at a Renaissance faire, Mortal Engines deserved a straight-to-video release.

But the script was written by Peter Jackson (along with his frequent collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh), so I’m as confused as anyone. What happened? The best I can hypothesize is that this thing was rotten at its seed—like most steampunk stuff, Mortal Engines is a pile of shit with some antique-looking cogs stuck on.